Thursday, 5 November 2009

Codename: Nebraska

Yesterday, November 4th, 11:15 am - 12:00 pm PST, Doug Thompson (Dusan Writer in Second Life) moderated a mixed-reality panel at Enterprise 2.0 in San Francisco and Metanomics inworld with:
  • Mark Kingdon, Linden Lab's CEO, 
  • Neil Katz, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Director IBM Virtual Spaces, CIO Office Innovation Initiatives, 
  • Steve Aguiar, Program Manager at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center's (NUWC's) Metaverse Strategic Initiative,
  • Douglas Maxwell, Program Technology Lead also at NUWC's Metaverse Strategic Initiative.

Mark Kingdon

Mark Kingdon, CEO of Linden Lab, unveiled “Nebraska”, the LL code-name for a stand-alone solution based on the technology that runs the popular Second Life virtual world. “Nebraska” is the much-anticipated behind-the-firewall solution which allows enterprises to host their own virtual world environments within their organizations, which was first introduced back in April.

Mark spoke about the benefits of the platform, the intended audience, and how it fits into the broader challenges and opportunities of “enterprise 2.0”. Mark was joined by a number of customers who had used Nebraska during the closed beta phase of development.

Nebraska consists of two rack-mounted servers, hosting two software packages: a world server and a voice server, which can be installed on an enterprise's network, and as it does not have to stream all the content that LL normally streams for Second Life, it is blazingly fast. Similar to the standalone version of Opensim, but much more polished.

The avatars in Nebraska are all 'suits', with none of the Pamela Anderson and Professional Wrestling lookalikes that seem to predominently populate Second Life. The package supports up to 800 avatars over 8 regions, each of which can be turned off, and replaced with another using a different theme. So, you could have training regions one week, then replace the regions with conference and show regions the next, saving to, and loading from, the region inventory at will.

But how much does all this cost? Well, the mooted price is US$55,000, plus US$14,000/year in fees, which should bring a big sigh of  relief to the open-source Opensim community.

Nebraska is aimed at providing enterprises with a SL-looking virtual space for their corporate activities, without the seedy association of SL itself.

In addition to Nebraska, Mark also introduced the Work Marketplace, where corporate customers could download ready-made regions, providing solutions for virtual conferences, events, exhibitions, training, marketing, etc., and a selection of business and work-related avatars, office suites, and much more, for their Nebraska customers, under a site license.

It remains to be seen whether this is a major new direction for Linden Labs.